Dictation & Transcription: A look at the old & the new!

By: Matt LaMond

There are virtually 100’s of different solutions you can use for dictation and transcription. For those of you who are unaware of what that is (D&T) allow me to give you a basic introduction. Dictation is the recording of an author’s voice. This can happen in virtually any industry/business. The most common forms of dictation though are in the medical and legal industry. Most doctors in order to see as many patients as possible record little audio notes about your visit to their office. These audio files are then sent off to a department called transcription. These “transcriptionists” listen to these audio files and type up all of our medical records that are then filed whether it is paper or electronic. The same happens in most law office practices as well. The lawyer dictates documents, briefs, contracts and so much more. This audio is then passed off to assistants or secretaries to listen and type.

Now among all of this dictation going on there are literally 100s of ways dictation and transcription can be completed from start to finish. There are some “flagship” solutions that are more popular than others though. One of these solutions was the use of a Central Dictation System or “C-Phone’s” which are station based dictation and transcription machines. They usually rely on a “tank” which is where all the dictation is stored. These c-phones call into this “tank” and either make or receive a dictation. Sounds like a pretty good system right? Wrong, it is actually an out-dated solution that may leave you vulnerable to crashing or security breaches. And what is even worse is that most of this equipment is discontinued or no longer under warranty. These units provided an acceptable quality though in audio for transcription and kept everything centralized. Since the c-phone has been conceptualized, the dictation industry has evolved leagues ahead of this equipment.

For most transcriptionists out there, a c-phone wasn’t so much as an option as it was mandatory. A lot of hospital systems were setup with a c-phone system to dictate with, as it was the most affordable solution at the time. If you wanted to go with another system at the time you would be looking around 2-4 times the price of a c-phone system. So what kind of features did this system offer? Well it was pretty basic, you called in and received a dictation and used your foot control for playback.  You had programmable buttons on the c-phone that you could use to setup all of your clients (authors). For many c-phones were compatible with many different hospitals out there so they had the ability to work for more than one client. You could adjust the speed and tone of playback. That was really the basics of a c-phone system. The authors had some features on their dictation machines as well but they are pretty basic.

Another reason that c-phones were used fairly often is that PCs were not always readily available during the time when c-phones came out. By today’s standards though virtually everywhere you look a PC is bound to be within 20 feet. One big disadvantage of the c-phone system was the fact that it used a telephone line. This means if you wanted to transcribe you had to dial-in to the system tying up your landline. Also if the hospital was long distance, yep, you guessed it; you had to pay long distance charges. These are just a few examples of how archaic this technology really is.

Lets take a look at one cutting-edge dictation solution to see what it offers. Atom & Atom Live by TranscriptionGear.Com is an all-in-one dictation solution. It covers every aspect of dictation to transcription that you may need. But what is it really? Lets start with Atom; it is a server-based solution that allows you to use call-in dictation, portable recorders, pc-based dictation, and even speech recognition. It also features a very easy-to-use software platform for your transcriptionists. But that is just the tip of the iceberg on Atom. It also has a whole slew of reports and statistics that you can pull from the system. With admin privileges you can gather reports like TAT, Productivity, Time spent Transcribing, audit log, and so much more. It also has complete workflow management meaning you get to customize where each and every dictation is sent. The system utilizes “concurrent licensing” meaning you can install the software anywhere! A license is only utilized when a “user” is logged in actually working. Atom is also known for its stability. Utilizing a SQL database and maintaining a low resource footprint you can count on your system to never crash. Did I also mention that this solution utilizes up to 512-bit encryption for transferring data between terminals.

Alright so this system sounds like it has some awesome bells and whistles. Usually that means one thing… Sticker shock! But actually it is really affordable. The Atom system is scalable or modular in design meaning you can get a basic system setup within in days and expand as your business grows.

So allow me to recap everything so far. This system is flexible, powerful, scalable, secure, and affordable. And it still has more features to be listed. It also features HL7 integration with most EMR/EHRs that exist out there as well. So whatever platform you currently use for storing your transcribed reports should work flawlessly with this system. It also features complete document management as well. No longer will you need to email or upload a text file and an audio file to your finished destination. Atom will keep your audio and text document enclosed in its system for you.

Atom Live is another version of the Atom system I haven’t explained yet. Atom is a solution that you purchase the software and hardware necessary and host the solution yourself. Atom live is a solution which TranscriptionGear.Com will host and maintain for you. All you need to do is install the client software on your terminal you wish to use and have it connect to your very own system that TranscriptionGear.Com will host for you. This means no upfront expensive hardware purchases or upgrading to be able to host the solution in your facility. Atom Live does come with a few features less than Atom though. However, Atom Live has a few nice benefits that Atom does not. With Atom Live you get free upgrades to the software should they be released. Meaning you will always be up-to-date with the latest technology at no additional cost. Also should you need any technical support with Atom Live it comes at no charge to you.

So this should give you a basic understanding of what Atom is and what it could do for you. Comparing this to an old tank c-phone station makes them seem really expensive to own and operate. Technology has and always will expand with great strides. Atom just happens to be one of those strides. If you have an old system, broke system, or even a new system, I would recommend at least taking a look at Atom. TranscriptionGear.Com has a full team of product experts ready to discuss with you if/how atom could work for you. With its long list of benefits it is clear how this software could be put to use in many offices and help increase productivity and efficiency. On one last note, TranscriptionGear.Com also offers free demonstrations of their software in action so take 30 minutes some day and check it out!